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Mimi Herman is Piedmont Laureate

Mimi Herman, 2017 Piedmont Laureate

We’re outrageously tardy in passing along this news, but if you haven’t heard, poet Mimi Herman was named the 2017 Piedmont Laureate, and we want to take a moment to extend our heartiest, if belated, congratulations.

Each year, the arts commissions of Durham, Orange County, Raleigh, and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, appoint a writer for a one-year term. The Piedmont Laureate reads at free community events, leads workshops or other types of outreach, takes part in online activities that “promote literature and creative writing,” and other innovative activites that expand appreciation of the literary arts.

Mimi Herman is a writer, editor, teaching artist, and consultant. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. She has worked as an arts and education consultant for over twenty years, engaging over 25,000 students and teachers with writing residencies, as well as designing and providing professional development for teaching artists, teachers and administrators.

The author of Logophilia and The Art of Learning, Mimi has published in Crab Orchard Review, Shenandoah, The Hollins Critic, and many other journals. Her website is

Upon her appointment, Mimi offered the following reflection on education and the arts:

In recent years, we in North Carolina have been particularly focused on excellence in education. We want the best for our children. We want to keep them in school and help them learn the most they can. And as we test new possibilities, we’re discovering what we’ve suspected all along: the arts are essential to our students’ education. At one point in time, we thought of arts as extras, the power locks and automatic windows on the vehicle of education. But now we’re seeing that the arts are the engine that drives the car. Students get out of bed in the morning excited to be going to school where they’ll be sculpting, dancing, painting, singing, acting, and writing. Some students, for the first time in their lives, are discovering that they want to learn. Education is about a lot of things: creating good citizens, opening students’ minds, helping us learn more about the world in which we live, passing on our heritage…. Arts programs have real effects in the real world. They use the resources of dedicated artists, educators and arts organizations, together with the talents and intelligence found in every student in every school in our state. They enable students to experience the joy of the creative process while reinforcing learning in other curriculum areas: language arts, math, social studies, science, physical education.

Past piedmont laureates include Zelda Lockhart, who will be a panlist at Slush Pile Live! at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Spring Conference; John Claude Bemis, who’ll lead the session “Exercising the Imagination (Children’s Writing)” at NCWN’s Spring Conference; and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Jaki Shelton Green.

For more about the Piedmont Laureate program, click here.

A Change Is Coming to Your E-mail Inbox

Spring is a good time for change….

For many years now, the North Carolina Writers’ Network has sent three e-blasts each week: The NC Literary Calendar (Tuesdays), Opportunities (Wednesdays), and Member Readings (Thursdays).

We send these e-blasts because we believe the information they contain get to the heart of our mission, which is to provide programs, resources, and opportunities for growth to writers at all levels.

But we, like you, wake each morning buried by new e-mails–so many e-mails, in fact, that we don’t even read many of the e-mails sent from lists we subscribe to. There just isn’t time.

We’ve decided to do our part to remedy that. Beginning this week, NCWN will now send only one e-blast per week. This single e-mail will contain the following:

* Important headlines from the past week
* New literary events, including a link to our full online calendar
* New readings by our members, including a link to our full online calendar
* New opportunities, including a link to the Opportunities section of our website
* Links to posts from the past week on our White Cross School blog
* Links to books from the past week that were featured in our Book Buzz section
* This week’s “Helping Hand,” which will remind recipents of member benefits

Along with this, our weekly e-blast will now be sent only to current members. To help remind you when to renew your membership, you’ll find your membership expiration date on the top right corner, once you open the e-blast.

We don’t want to clutter your e-mail inbox any more than we have to, and we hope you enjoy the new format.

Look for it in your inbox later this week.

Nobody Writes Alone: Lee Smith

Lee Smitih

Lee Smitih

In support of the North Carolina Writers’ Network “Nobody Writes Alone” campaign, we’ve asked beloved authors to weigh-in on what the North Carolina Writers’ Network means to them.

“In my travels over these United States, I am often asked why North Carolina has so many good writers—and my answer never varies. No other state has a comprehensive support system anything like our own incredible North Carolina Writers’ Network, offering help all the way, all across the state from Murphy to Manteo: from classes and workshops and readings and conferences and contests, to job opportunities and residencies for every genre and writing for every age level. There is, quite simply, nothing else out there like it!

“Because writing, you know, is a two-way proposition: a means of communication requiring both a writer and a reader. The NCWN helps us complete that equation. Its groups, conferences, and like-minded writer friends supply us with that reader we need.

“Maybe you’ve gotten used to this. Maybe you don’t understand what a necessity this is, what a privilege this is, to have our own NCWN. In a time when traditional publishing, arts funding, and even freedom of speech are imperiled, please join me in supporting the NCWN. We may not be able to write one of those elusive bestsellers, but we can certainly write a check!”
—Lee Smith, Hillsborough

Lee Smith is the author of seventeen works of fiction including Fair and Tender Ladies, Oral History, and her most recent novel, Guests on Earth. She has received many awards including the North Carolina Award for Literature and an Academy Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; her novel The Last Girls was a New York Times bestseller as well as winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. She was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2008. Dimestore, a collection of personal essays, was published in 2016 by Algonquin Books.

You can make your gift online with a VISA, MasterCard, or Discover; over the phone by calling 336-293-8844 or 919-308-3228; or by mailing your check to:

P.O. Box 21591
Winston-Salem, NC 27120

Your contribution, in any amount, will help keep the Network as vibrant and accessible as the literary culture we promote.

Pauli Murray Home Designated National Historic Landmark

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 1, The Pauli Murray Project will host elected officials and “family and community leaders” when the Pauli Murray Family Home in Durham is officially designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.

The “Homecoming” kicks off at 1:00 pm and includes a plaque presentation, exhibits on Pauli Murray’s life and legacy, arts activities, book sales, and neighborhood walking tours. Snacks and beverages will be available throughout the day; for the full schedule, click here.

Pauli Murray was a 1998 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. The Pauli Murray Project provides this concise bio:

Pauli Murray was a champion for civil and human rights who grew up in Durham. Her insights and vision continue to resonate powerfully in our times. As a historian, attorney, poet, activist, teacher and Episcopal priest, she worked throughout her life to address injustice, to give voice to the unheard, to educate, and to promote reconciliation between races and economic classes. Her beautifully written memoir, Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, was published in 1956. The book chronicles her roots and paints a compelling portrait of Durham during its formative years.

According to a story in the Duke Chronicle, Pauli “helped found the National Organization for Women in 1966 and was the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.”

In July of 2012, the Episcopal Church voted to include Pauli Murray in its book Holy Men, Holy Women: Celebrating the Saints. This officially made Pauli a Saint of the Episcopal Church.

Earlier this year, Pauli’s childhood home received a $237,575 federal grant through the National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grant Program Historic Preservation Fund to “complete the renovation of the interior of the house, including the utilities. It will also allow the project to work on a landscaping plan.” The Historic House and Welcome Center should be open to the public by 2020.

Obtaining the federal grant took a massive effort, including a restoration of the foundation of the home and the collection of 2,700 signatures to prove to the National Park Service that designating the home National Historic Landmark was in the best interest of Durham, North Carolina, and the country as a whole.

For more about the Pauli Murray Project, and the designation, visit

Keep Politics Out of Nonprofits

From our friends at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits:

Congress is seriously considering legislation to repeal or significantly weaken the longstanding law that requires 501(c)(3) nonprofits to be nonpartisan (sometimes called the “Johnson Amendment”). Politicizing 501(c)(3) organizations would damage the public’s trust in the work of nonprofits and would take money away from nonprofits’ mission-related work and put it into the hands of politicians.

Now is the time to take action to prevent this from happening!

Please take two minutes today (and no later than Friday, March 31) to sign your organization onto the Nonprofit Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship.

It is essential that as many nonprofits as possible sign on to this letter, since our members of Congress will take our concerns more seriously if they see a strong and united nonprofit sector. Thank you if your nonprofit is one of the 200+ organizations from North Carolina that has already signed on to the letter.

To learn more about why this proposal is such a threat to nonprofits, check out the Center’s recent blog post or the recent op-ed in The Hill (an influential publication on Capitol Hill) from the National Council of Nonprofits and the Council on Foundations.

Please spread the word to other nonprofits. Feel free to forward this action alert to other nonprofits, foundations, and religious institutions.

If It Ain’t Pembroke, Fix It

Judging from Pembroke Magazine’s recent “Where in the World?” blog postings, readers are enjoying the new issue #49—one of the largest volumes to date—pretty much everywhere: while flying kites, while enjoying a plate of jumbalaya, at Lum and Abner Jot ‘Em Down Store & Museum in Pine Ridge Arkansas, among many other locales and while engaged with many otherwise mundane chores (feeding goats!).

There’s something perfect about this series of photos, which seem to perfectly encapsulate where Pembroke Magazine is now after forty-eight years of publication. They’ve got their feet firmly planted in their North Carolina literary heritage, but they’ve got one eye on the new, soliciting photos from readers and posting them to their blog, even while continuing to expand in both influence and reach.

Pembroke’s latest issue features a Q&A with Belle Boggs (The Art of Waiting) plus creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry on subjects from “women reclaiming their backwoods origins to bad behavior at Vacation Bible School to infertility and loss.” Past contributors include fiction writers Jacob M. Appel, George Choundas, and Katie Cortese; poets Morri Creech, Alan Michael Parker, and Anne Dyer Stuart; and creative nonfiction by Theo Greenblatt, Dionisia Morales, and C.W. Smith.

Since Jessica Pitchford became editor in 2013, Pembroke Magazine has expanded its annual offering—the magazine is physically thicker than in years past—and made an effort to become more global in its breadth. Still, the rag continues to honor North Carolina roots that reach back to its founding by Norman Macleod in 1969. Past editors include NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and current NC poet laureate Shelby Stephenson, who served as editor from 1979 to his retirement in 2010.

You can donate or subscribe to Pembroke for $10, or order a back issue for $8, by downloading an order form here or clicking here to order online.

Pembroke accepts poetry (no more than 5 poems at a time, with a maximum of 10 pages total per submission); prose up to 7,500 words; flash prose up to 1,000 words, and art. Query for interviews. To submit, click here.

Pembroke Magazine is published at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

WCU Hosts Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series

From our friends at the North Carolina Poetry Society:

Pat Riviere-Seel

Western North Carolina poets participating in the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series (GCDPS) will be reading their work at the 15th Annual Spring Literary Festival at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee on April 3, 12:00–1:00 pm. Participating poets include Pat Riviere-Seel, the region’s Distinguished Poet for 2016-2017, and four student poets: Mary Coggins, Benjamin Cutler, Jade Shuler, and Cathy Sky.

The series, a free program of the North Carolina Poetry Society, pairs an established North Carolina poet with four student writers who wish to develop their work. From December through May, the students and the Distinguished Poet correspond or meet to discuss and work on about a dozen of each student’s poems. The series includes a GCDPS reading at Western Carolina’s annual Literary Festival in April and the opportunity to set up joint readings of the student poets and the Distinguished Poet at the students’ home libraries.

Pat Riviere-Seel is the author of two chapbooks: No Turning Back Now (2004) and The Serial Killer’s Daughter (2009). Her most recent poetry collection, Nothing Below but Air (2014), was a semifinalist for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. The Serial Killer’s Daughter won the Roanoke-Chowan Award and has been staged by several theatre groups. Riviere-Seel has taught in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program, has been poet-in-residence at the NC Zoo, and co-edited the anthology Kakalak 2016. She has also worked as a newspaper journalist, publicist, and lobbyist. She lives in Asheville.

The Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series supports the mission of the North Carolina Poetry Society to foster the reading, writing, and enjoyment of poetry across the state. The GCDPS originated when the NCPS Board voted in 2003 to follow the advice of Fred Chappell, then North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, who advised the NCPS president about various approaches to take in furthering its mission. Prior Distinguished Poets from the western North Carolina region have included Mary Adams, Joseph Bathanti, and Brent Martin.

To apply to the GCDPS in western North Carolina, students need to fill out the application form found at the North Carolina Poetry Society’s website,, and e-mail it with a three-page sample of the student’s poetry to Dr. Catherine Carter at Western Carolina University (

Counties included in the western region are listed at The application requires the signature of a parent and of a teacher or public librarian for students under eighteen.

Poems and applications can be mailed to:

Dr. Catherine Carter
421 Coulter Building
Department of English
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC 28723

Summer Writing Opportunities for Youth

The Great American Writers’ Camp

Looking for a way to get your kid(s) writing this summer? Here are a few writing camps for youths happening around the Tar Heel State:

The Great American Writers’ Camp
Ages: Grades 4-6
Dates: July 24-29
Location: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem
Established in 2011, The Great American Writers’ Camp is back again with even more writing activities, strategies and projects. Young writers will hone their skills and styles as they learn to take ideas and develop them into coherent stories, poems, arguments, speeches and more. We are committed to helping our young writers enjoy camp AND gain new strategies for creating and communicating. Working in groups, individually, and one-on-one with an instructor, students will begin to see how their ideas and words have a place in the world around them.

Summer Writing Programs
Ages: Grades 6-12
Dates: June 19-23, July 17-21
Location: University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville
UNC-Asheville’s summer writing program returns this year with week-long sessions in June and July for rising 6th-8th graders (“All Things Writing”) and rising 9th-12th graders (“Write Now”). The programs offer each participating student experience in different aspects of writing under the tutelage of Asheville’s finest writing instructors. Students will also participate in workshops featuring guest speakers who will address special writing-related topics such as The College Application Essay, Writing for Newspapers, Brainstorming Ideas, Careers in Writing, and more.

Young and Teen Writers Camp
Ages: 9-19
Dates: July 10-21
Location: North Carolina State University, Raleigh
Poetry, prose, dramatic writing, graphic novels. ​The Young Writers Workshop offers genre specific small-group workshop environments for children interested in developing their creative writing skills. Our teachers are especially good at working with young writers–nurturing and guiding their enthusiasm and talent by building on skills and craft. Student-to-teacher ratio is low — no more than 12 students per class — so that participants can receive the benefit of the instructor’s expertise and individual attention. Our students are encouraged and invited to explore their own styles of writing in our workshops and beyond. During the two-week program, they read from their own writings, work in small groups and workshops, and receive one-on-one craft-based instruction in plot, character, action, dialogue, conflict, and more. YWW students are grouped by interests and age (older students together with older students, younger students with their age group, as well). Students will be enrolled in two classes. Classes are 60 minutes long with a 30 minute (bring-your-own) snack break in between. Young writers are supervised at all times.

Young Writers Academy
Ages: 9-14
Dates: July 10-13
Location: 9500 Community House Rd., Charlotte
Mystery Writing & Detective Science and Graphic Novels: Writing & Illustration. The mission of Young Writers’ Academy LLC is to provide engaging creative writing enrichment opportunities for students that will inspire them to write. We aim to improve their writing through proven teaching and learning methods. Our students have a blast creating original work.

Young Writers’ Camp

Young Writers Camp
Ages: Grades 6-11
Dates: June 1 – August 4 (three sessions)
Location: Duke University, Durham
While campers use the term “fun,” we prefer the term “engaging.” Camp engages its participants intellectually, emotionally, physically:
A casual observer dropping into one of our classes might see young people acting out the lives and situations of student-generated characters, rapping and performing poetry and song, walking down Ninth Street in Durham and “listening in on” and recording conversations to develop an ear for dialogue, participating in a round-table discussion of their classmates’ work, taste-testing desserts as a review of the fare at the Mad Hatter Bakeshop and Café. Field trips to local businesses, art museums, gardens, and dance festivals are a regular feature of our classes. While campers are given class time for quiet writing, they also draft, revise, and edit collaboratively.After an academic day of writing classes, many of our extended day and residential campers choose physical afternoon activities such as sports and drama.

Young Writers Workshop
Ages: Grades 9-12
Dates: July 11-15
Location: University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington
The Young Writers Workshop (YWW) is an annual five-day camp that brings together up to 45 high school students to study the craft of writing on the UNC Wilmington campus. The workshop is organized and operated by UNCW’s Department of Creative Writing, and camp participants have the opportunity to study with published, working writers-faculty members and graduate students in the department’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. The Young Writers Workshop provides a place for aspiring writers to experiment, meet other writers, and follow their creative interests in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. YWW participants take part in daily creative writing exercises, craft lectures, writing workshops, and readings. The week offers a valuable and exciting experience for young writers interested in learning more about their craft. Although YWW students are asked to submit a work of creative writing in one genre (poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction), they receive instruction in all genres. Participants spend approximately six hours every day in writing exercises, peer workshops, and craft presentations. Students also have time to explore the UNCW campus, visit the bookstore and library, and get to know other young writers.

NCWN-West Hosts “A Day for Writers”

On Saturday, May 6, NCWN-West will host “A Day for Writers” at the Jackson County Public Library, 310 Keener St., in Sylva.

Registration is now open.

After morning coffee and a welcome, attendees can choose among workshop offerings that include:

After a short break, the late-morning session offerings include:

During lunchtime there will be book signings and a door-prize drawing. The afternoon sessions offer workshops such as:

The day concludes with a Publishing and Marketing Panel followed by a Q & A with Tom Davis, founder and publisher of Old Mountain Press; Glenda Council Beal; Tara Lynne Groth; and Deanna Klingel.

For the full schedule, click here. To register, click here.

The cost to register goes up after March 31; no refunds will be given after April 15.

Members of NCWN (North Carolina Writers’ Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit entity), automatically become members of NCWN-West (North Carolina Writers’ Network-West), if they live in Clay, Cherokee, Graham, Macon, Swain, Jackson, Transylvania, Haywood, and Henderson Counties in North Carolina, and some bordering counties in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. They enjoy both NCWN-West specific benefits and NCWN benefits.

For more about NCWN-West, visit their website, here.

Cave Wall and the Things We Cannot See

In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” bound prisoners, unable to turn their heads, see only shadows cast on the wall of the cave in which they’re being held—shadows created by puppeteers carrying objects back and forth across the diffused light. The question is then raised: when the prisoners talk about what they see, what are they referring to? Not the objects themselves, but the shadows of these objects.

While this allegory has been studied exhaustively, the question of what these prioners talk about when they talk about their shadows is essential to understanding our humanity. For the prisoners, “the general terms of our language are not ‘names’ of the physical objects that we can see. They are actually names of things that we cannot see, things that we can only grasp with the mind.”

It’s this spirit of intellectual pursuit, the “things we can only grasp with the mind,” and spirit, that has been driving the Greensboro-based poetry journal Cave Wall now for ten years. Cave Wall publishes twice yearly.

Cave Wall reminds me of why I started writing poetry in the first place,” says former U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey.

The most-recent Issue #14, Fall 2016, features poems by Nickole Brown, Julie Funderburk, Jessica Jacobs, Rachel Richardson, Charles Wyatt, and many more, which is quite an All-Star lineup of poets with North Carolina connections! Light drawings by Naoko Matsubara illustrate the issue.

Reading submissions “blind,” that is, without any identifying information on the poems themselves, is extremely important to Cave Wall’s editors, and a core tenet of who they are as a lit mag. As founding editor Rhett Iseman Trull said in a 2014 interview, reading blind submissions helps:

“make reading the poems less about ‘judging’ good or bad and more about just letting them wash over me and see what sticks to my heart. As much as I can, I try to make the submission reading process about the poems and the poems alone, not about who wrote them.”

Cave Wall is currently accepting submissions for its Broadside Contest (deadline: March 31). The winning poem will be published as a limited edition letterpress broadside, and the poet will receive $500, plus twenty copies. Everyone who submits receives a one-year subscription to Cave Wall. For more information, and to submit, click here.

Cave Wall also accepts general submissions from time to time; check back in early fall to see if they’ve opened up their general reading period.

Subscriptions to Cave Wall are $14 for one year or $24 for two years. Issues also are available at most independent bookstores around North Carolina.

Cave Wall is on Facebook and Twitter. Visit their website at